By Deb Dorshorst
Let’s face it. Women really do travel better without their mates. At least that’s been my experience with men of the Midwestern persuasion.
My husband’s idea of the “perfect vacation” is an elk hunt in the wilds of Wyoming – sleeping in an Army surplus tent and washing up by a gurgling stream in the Big Horns. I cringe at the very thought of no shower for a week and freezing my extremities off on the side of a mountain.
Men and women simply have a vastly different travel chromosome. He likes cold. I like warm. He can’t wait to sink his hunting boots into Western soil. I prefer burying my bare feet in a white sand beach.
While nature is great, I love creature comforts even more. That’s why I go on “women’s getaways.” We fly, we rent cars, we MapQuest for easy directions and negotiate prices with sidewalk vendors. It’s no big deal. But to hear some women in this neck of the woods talk, you’d think you were in a different age.
Women have told me they would never travel anywhere without their husbands. They dare not drive in the “big” cities of Milwaukee or Minneapolis, for fear of taking the wrong exit and ending up in some dark underworld of run-down tenements and shady characters waiting to pounce on their windshield. Whoa – there’s a brave new world out there, ladies, and with a few easy steps, any female from the hinterlands can successfully navigate an airport and rental car pickup with ease.
Imagine a vacation where you are not arguing with your mate over which exit ramp to take. Your female travel companion willingly asks for directions on those rare occasions when the smart phone steers you wrong. You never hear snide remarks about bladder problems when nature calls. That world does exist – when women travel with women.
It won’t be easy to break out of that comfortable cocoon where somebody else drives and deciphers the map. But just think of the exhilaration in knowing you, an independent female, can drive wherever your heart desires, even tourist shop for hours on end without ever hearing a male voice groan, “Let’s get out of this junk shop!”
Here are some of my own travel tips, gleaned from years of traveling with women weary from childcare and household duties, who jump at the chance to spend even a long weekend away from the daily drudgery.
1. Inform your husband/partner of your travel plans just prior to departure. Men don’t like surprises. In this case, you don’t want them knowing far in advance of your trip, since they will try to dissuade you from going with mindless concerns such as, “Who’s going to do the piles of laundry?” or “There’s no groceries in the house!”
2. Don’t worry about packing neatly. There’s always the chance airport security will single you out for “special treatment,” which entails a TSA agent rifling through your purse and carry-on contents – spilling out tampons and Midol tablets for all to see. Bonus tip: Leave your underwire bra in check-in baggage. Wearing mine typically causes the metal wand detector to go off. No matter how discreetly the female security agent may act, having your arms fully extended and standing spread eagle with wands buzzing around the chest is not a pretty sight.
3. Live the adventure. Don’t fret over getting lost. The first time I got lost was at age 19, riding in my friend’s sporty VW Rabbit at 1 a.m. Three young females, looking for a disco in Milwaukee, ending up on the “wrong side of town.” We didn’t panic, just hopped back on the interstate and found our way. That experience molded my future travel with women. On a winding road from the John Muir Woods back to San Francisco (near dusk), my friend Julee, and I took a wrong turn. With cliff on one side, ocean on the other, there was no room for error. There was also no MapQuest. After driving past a Hare Krishna training house, we decided we’d rather not stay with the Krishnas overnight, took the next hairpin turn into the only “pull out” and found the way back to our hotel before dark. To this day, Julee still thinks somebody drove past us and shouted, “You idiots!” (But it could’ve been just nerves.)
4. Prepare for the unexpected. “Live and let live” should be every woman’s motto when traveling together. You can read travel books, do endless online research and still encounter unexpected situations on your dream trip.
The taxi drivers in New York should come with a warning sticker. My first Yellow Checker experience was with “Abdullah,” an irate cabbie with an attitude. He squealed to a halt in front of the Empire State Building, yelling, “Get out!” Being first-time travelers from Wisconsin, how were we supposed to know this was the corner for the tallest building in the world? With his fiery eyes and ugly disposition, we quickly exited the cab, even dropping him a tip in hopes he wouldn’t run us over.
On a Grand Canyon hike, when the well went dry on the Havasupai Indian reservation, we didn’t worry, though my friend did admit, “I want to get out of this hell hole!”
On a July trip to Cape Cod, we rented a car in Providence, Rhode Island, that must have at one time held a dead organism in the trunk. For the remainder of the trip, we were forced to drive the interstate at 70 mph with all four windows open. (The rental car company apologized for the fishy stench, giving us a free voucher for future travel.)
It’s these unexpected mishaps that make us stronger. If for nothing else, we can show our mates what we’re made of. My husband still can’t believe I took a treacherous ropes and chains climb to a waterfall at the Grand Canyon. Were it not for the photos, I would not have believed it myself.
Fear is a four-letter word
More than anything, ladies, don’t let fear hamper your decision to travel. Don’t believe any man who claims you can’t read a map. Once I started traveling with other women, I gained great confidence in my map-reading ability and cruising through multiple lanes of big-city traffic. In fact, I got the horn just once on a four-day road trip through San Francisco and the Napa Valley.
The more you know, the less fear you’ll have. Do diligent research before any trip, and always be on the lookout for travel deals. A woman’s mantra should be:
“Travel far, travel often and travel always – with a sense of humor!”
Deb Dorshorst has written for a variety of businesses and publications. While she enjoys the variety of freelance projects and people she encounters, her real passion is writing about the everyday adventures, challenges and humorous sidelights associated with being a woman.
“Humor is the great common denominator,” she says. “It’s something we can all relate to, and what better way to cope in today’s world than to share laughter and the shared miseries that go along with the female perspective.”
Her passion is travel, and she hopes her writing inspires women to break out of their comfort zones and experience life to its fullest.
It’s a woman’s world: Women traveling together – Best travel buds ever!
By Deb Dorshorst